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Trump Supports Sweeping Criminal Justice Reform Bill

'Did I hear the word bipartisan?'
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Nov 15, 2018 4:19 AM CST
From left, Sen. Mike Lee, Jared Kushner, and Ivanka Trump greet guests after President Trump speaks about HR 5682, the "First Step Act" in the Roosevelt Room of the White House.   (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)
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(Newser) – "Did I hear the word bipartisan?" President Trump asked Wednesday as he announced his support for a major reform of prison and sentencing laws. The First Step Act, which the AP calls the "first major rewrite of the nation's criminal justice sentencing laws in a generation," was created by a bipartisan group of senators and will remove some of the harsher minimum sentencing laws passed in the 1990s. "We're all better off when former inmates can re-enter society as law-abiding, productive citizens," Trump said. "Americans from across the political spectrum can unite around prison reform legislation that will reduce crime while giving our fellow citizens a chance at redemption."

The bill, which builds on one the House passed in May, includes a boost to rehabilitation efforts for federal prisoners and bans practices including the shackling of pregnant women, the Guardian reports. It's not clear whether it will go to a vote during the lame-duck session of Congress, though Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell says it will go to the floor if 60 votes can be guaranteed—depending on how it "stacks up" with other priorities. The bill is opposed by some conservatives, though its broad range of support includes both the ACLU and the Koch brothers, the New York Times reports. It earned the support of the national Fraternal Order of Police last week. (Last year, Jeff Sessions brought back tougher drug sentences.)

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